See music for what it truly is – art

Geoff Tate

Photo By Jaymz Eberly (EberlyPhoto.com)

I have always known that there are people in this world who can create great things, and even launch movements among us to make a better world. They become icons, legends of their time. With this notoriety also come expectations, biases, and those who just don’t care whether we succeed or fail if they can have the last word. It is also apparent that this type of thing occurs every day in the world of music. Bands come together and develop their own special brand, a sound that is specifically theirs alone; this is either accepted or not by the masses and well, that’s how the world of music turns, in a very basic way of course.

When there are groups known the world over for their work, and perhaps their not so great behaviors, perceptions of artists form and we all expect them to be as poorly behaved or self-centered as those who have written about them pain them to be. However, occasionally, someone gets the chance to see a different side of one of these legends, one that most don’t think matters because it isn’t splashed all over the headlines making the bad boys and girls of rock and metal appear just that way. 

On May 1, I had a chance to finally speak with one of the greats; and I learned more from that half hour conversation with him than through years of music videos, interviews, and articles. As a writer, and a music lover, researching one of my favorite vocalists was imperative. However, I have no illusions about the some people’s image of Mr. Geoff Tate; but, I hope, after reading this article that perhaps your perception may be mildly changed. My conversation with the vested one was interesting, and quite enlightening. It was a well-spent lunch break indeed.

Hello Mr. Tate, I am Tabatha with Metal On Loud Magazine; thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. How are you?

Hello! I am well just finished a big tour.
   
How was that?

It was fantastic! Toured starting in November and just finished last week. We played about 90 dates in the U.S. and then spent 5 or 6 weeks in Europe.
   
That sounds like fun!

It was a lot of fun. It was very satisfying; I am very pleased with the outcome.
   
So why acoustic?

Music normally begins on an acoustic guitar and then is created using other instruments and tools; this is a sort of reverse engineering so to speak.
   
So, could you tell us a little bit about Operation: Mindcrime?

Well it’s a project, really. Three records make up this project and two of them have now been released. We will be releasing number three in September, then start another tour to support the album; probably in the winter months. I really like Europe in winter – it is so festive and cool. They celebrate a lot over there. The atmosphere is amazing.
   
What is the premise behind the series?

It was really just a concept that I wanted to present in a trilogy; the age-old way of story-telling. It just seemed to be the most logical way to tell it. I actually came up with the concept while I was hiking in Spain – when I got back, it was full-tilt writing; I got all the albums written at one time. We then recorded the entire trilogy at once. You just get inspired sometimes and lean in a certain direction and this is what came from that.
   
What does Geoff Tate do when he isn’t creating music or touring?

I live in the Northeast (of the United States). We have a lot of mountains and active volcanos so there is a lot to do. We hike a lot, about twice a week. My wife and the dogs and I go out together and just hike the trails.
   
It’s nice to hear about things like that. What kind of dogs do you have?

We have a pug and a poodle. The pug is a rescue and the poodle is one that we chose from a litter someone had.
   
My dogs are rescues, too. It is wonderful that you did that for her. How is she now?

She’s really a changed animal. So happy and carefree- it’s great to see that dogs can come back from abuse and brutal treatment. We fell in love with her instantly, and I am so glad that she is a part of our family.
   
What is your personal favorite song from your recent project?

On the latest, Resurrection, I’ve been listening to it a lot. My favorite one of the album though is probably Live from my Machine. It just sounds incredible in my car. We were experimenting with sub-low-base frequencies on this album. It’s hard to control and on that song it makes a huge impact. I wait for the chorus and the sub low base frequency to kick in and then crank the volume all the way up.
   
How would you classify your music when it comes to subgenres?

Ah. Well, I don’t classify music. I grew up in a world before breakdown of genres and such. Why would I want to label my music? I don’t believe in that. I mean, it is a handy tool for those looking for music, but artistically I don’t see it as a good thing. If you think about it, genre specifications put music in boxes. Good music doesn’t go in a box, it gets listened to. In my opinion, genre specification can create prejudice; this is something you see every day. People are missing out on amazing art because it doesn’t fit in the box they think it should. I guess I am old-fashioned that way. I just want to listen to what I like and not try to classify or explain it. See music for what it truly is – art.

If you could play anything you wanted at your shows, what would it be?

I would play what I love; the setlist from this tour I think encompasses that. It went over very well. Most audiences are uncomfortable if you play more than one song in a row that they may not be familiar with. As a performer, you know this. So, you stick to that. I would build a setlist by picking the most popular from each of the albums and then adding in some newer or less-known songs to finish it off.
   
What may we be seeing from you in the future?

I am working on a project with Emily, my daughter. Emily, her writing partner and I are putting together their first album. The project is ultra-modern rock music. I am proud of her. I remember when she was little and discovered my album collection, she started early and her tastes vary widely. My fans were introduced to her with American Soldier back in 2009; I am really excited about this new project with her.
   
Thank you again, Geoff, for taking time to speak to me today. Do you have any final thoughts to share with our readers?

Thank you for everything; your continued interest and support for the music. That means a lot. Fans are what make it worth doing. It would be great to see all of you at some point while I am touring or doing guest spots with other artists.

All photo's were made by Jaymz Eberly of EberlyPhoto.com.

Tabatha Spears Woodruff